Where can you learn everything you need to know about colored gemstones?

Karla Rosenbusch
is the managing editor
Lapidary Journal
Jewelry Artist.
Akoya pearls
freshwater pearls
Tahitian pearls
South Sea pearls
Pearl photos by Jim Lawson.

Pssst! Can I let you on a little secret? Until I started working at Interweave a few years ago, I knew absolutely nothing about gemstones. But my first job here was managing editor of Colored Stone, the magazine that told you much of what you needed to know about gemstones and the jewelry business. I began to absorb an amazing amount of knowledge about colored gemstones, information that definitely came in handy as I started making jewelry myself.

Having favorites among the magazine issues you produce is a little like having favorites among your children. You really shouldn't, but sometimes you just can't help yourself. And my favorite Colored Stone issues were those that we devoted to particular gemstones or classes of gemstones. These issues included photo atlases to help jewelry makers and anyone interested in those gems identify the varieties of each gemstone. They also contained articles that gave the history of the stones and showed what different jewelry makers created with these gems.

I know that Jewelry Making Daily editor Tammy Jones is a huge fan of pearls, and I often think of her while looking through the March/April 2009 issue of Colored Stone. That edition of the magazine was devoted to pearls and other treasures from the sea. The photo atlas contains images of every variety and color of pearl, along with a wealth of information about the origins of each type. The issue also contains articles on faceted pearls, chocolate pearls, and black pearl farms in the Sea of Cortez. There's even a fantastic story about a cache of natural pearls that were recovered from a shipwreck off Florida's Keys.

But I have to admit that my favorite article in the pearl issue of Colored Stone is not solely related to pearls. Since we were discussing jewelry that came from the sea, I was able to sneak in something about one of my other favorite topics—the Titanic. I wrote an article about the jewelry that was found among the other artifacts recovered from the Titanic wreck site.

Here's a little bit of jewelry and movie trivia for you: The "Heart of the Ocean" diamond from the Titanic movie never existed, was not a diamond (it was a glass-and-paste prop), was not chucked into the ocean by a little old lady, and although a version of it was created after the movie came out, even that replica wasn't a diamond-it was a sapphire.

Evalyn Walsh McLean wearing the Hope Diamond. Photo courtesy of Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

The Hope Diamond. Photo courtesy of the Smithsonian Institution.


Colored Diamonds
Another one-gem issue of Colored Stone that I always loved was the July/August 2009 issue on colored diamonds. The photo atlas has information on diamonds in almost every color of the rainbow and explains the different grades and rankings given to each color. Naturally, it includes some stunning photos of these spectacular diamonds. The issue also discusses raw diamonds and the jewelry that is created from them, and it includes articles on violet and champagne diamonds from the Argyle Mines of Australia.

My favorite article from the colored-diamond issue is a history piece about the world's most famous blue diamonds, including the Graff-Wittelsbach, the Blue Heart, the Blue Empress, and more. Of course, the story discusses the most famous blue of them all, the Hope Diamond.

Once owned by heiress Evalyn Walsh McLean, the Hope is now on display in the Smithsonian Institution's Museum of Natural History. Having been intimately involved in the blue diamond article (okay, I wrote it), I just had to finally see the Hope for myself. On a family trip to Washington, D.C., last year, I made all of my siblings and siblings-in-law traipse through the museum just so I could view the Hope in person.

labradorite pendant
unakite pendant

Not all of Colored Stone's single-gemstone issues dealt with high-end gems like diamonds and pearls. Perhaps my favorite of these issues is the November/December 2009 issue, which was devoted to feldspar.

Feldspar is a huge category of gemstones that includes a wide range of subcategories. The issue's photo atlas broke these subcategories down, giving descriptions, explanations, and even chemical compositions of each. The stones in the feldspar category include orthoclase, oligoclase, amazonite, sanidine, perthite, bytownite, andesine, and the ever-popular moonstone and sunstone. My favorite of the feldspars is the oily looking, multicolored labradorite and its cousin, the stunning spectrolite from Finland.

One relatively inexpensive stone featured in the feldspar issue is unakite, which is actually a hybrid of feldspar, epidote, quartz, and granite. I came to love this green-and-red mottled stone so much that I regularly use it now in my own jewelry.


You can still get these single-gem issues, along with other really cool issues of Colored Stone—and in an environmentally friendly version—because the Interweave store offers a CD collection of all seven Colored Stone issues from 2009 and 2010. It really is terrific to have all kinds of information about gemstones, jewelry design, jewelry business, and history of gems and jewelry, right on your computer. So make sure to order your Colored Stone CD Collection!

Don't forget to pop by the Jewelry Making Daily forums and tell us what gemstones and gem stories are your favorites or share in the comments below. We love to hear from you!

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